This week prisoners in the United kingdom were pretty much handed the right to vote. The issue started with convicted murderer John Hirst, who murdered his landlady with an axe. In a case he brought, the European Court of Human Rights decided in 2005 that a blanket ban on prisoners voting was unlawful.
For 5 years the government managed to avoid really implementing the ruling of the ECHR, however, in order to prevent expensive compensation payments the government has decided to implement the ruling. The ECHR does, however, permit particular governing bodies to opt to deny the right to vote to certain classes of offenders. Among politicians, judges, and solicitors in London the problem has become quite divisive.
The controversy exists on numerous levels, and is being debated extensively by London solicitors . That being said, many english men and women oppose the decision for no reason other than they resent the EU for forcing the UK to adopt the continental conception of human rights.
The is little internal consistency in this reasoning, however. For one, the UK recently compelled the Scottish government to cease denying detainees being questioned the right to access a solicitor. What is the difference between the UK forcing Scotland to accept its view of human rights, and the EU forcing the UK to accept its? No one made the UK join the Eu; it was 100% voluntary.
The genuine issue is the intellectual issue of whether or not prisoners have the right to vote at all. The argument has been made, by the Prison reform trust and various left wing lawyers in London that everyone must be given the right to vote for a state to be a legitimate democracy.
This reasoning has not convinced everyone, however. Convicted criminals, a number have stated, give up their right to vote when the break the law.
At this time, however, many prisoners are going to receive the vote. The question of which kinds of convicted criminals will be given the right to vote will decided soon, and it is an important one?